A long awaited community buyout of the former RAF Machrihanish air base has been confirmed.
It is the culmination of the largest and most complicated community buyout under current Scottish land reform legislation, which has been completed with support and financial assistance from the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Water and the Ministry of Defence.
The Machrihanish Airbase Community Company (MACC) has purchased the former base.
Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson visited the site and met senior members of MACC as well as other board members. He was given a tour of the site and heard about future plans.
Benefits of the buyout include: £1.7m investment in local infrastructure, £300,000 to address issues relating to the condition of the base and other costs, 137 former MoD houses and commercial properties connected to a water supply for the first time and an upgrade of the private sewage system and electrical infrastructure.
Plans for the site include commercial and industrial use, including for renewable energy and biomass, as well as residential and recreational purposes.
Stevenson said: “Land ownership is key to building independent, resilient rural communities and creating a sense of confidence and community empowerment. That’s why the Scottish Government fully support buyouts and are committed to providing opportunities for rural communities to acquire land.
“The MACC buyout will benefit both the local community and businesses. Benefits will include improvements to the water, sewage and electrical infrastructure at the site.
“The transfer would not have been achieved without the commitment of members of the Machrihanish Airbase Community Company. They were quick to see the benefits that community ownership could bring, ensured the community supported their vision and have worked tirelessly to deliver the base into community ownership.” Ian Wardrop, MACC chairman, said: “It has been a long road but all the hard work has finally paid off. I would like to acknowledge the tremendous support we have had from the community, and the ongoing help, advice and financial support from our partners in Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Argyll and Bute Council.
The former RAF base at Machrihanish was declared surplus to defence requirements in October 2008. Covering an area of over 1,025 acres on the Kintyre peninsula, it is a key site in phase one of the National Renewable Infrastructure Plan.
It is the site of a wind tower manufacturing facility, recently acquired by a joint venture of SSE and March Wind Technology and the site of Highlands and Islands Airport Limited Campbeltown airport.